When a victim of crime makes a complaint, our team will assess it within 28 days. We may contact the agency that is being complained about to request information to assist with the assessment. If this happens, the agency will be informed of the complaint.
Agencies are required to familiarise themselves with the Victims’ Charter and the associated complaints process.
The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether the Commissioner will agree to consider the complaint or decline to consider the complaint. Our office does not evaluate the substance of the complaint during this assessment and all parties to a complaint are notified of the assessment decision within 14 days.
During this assessment, the Commissioner considers:
1. Whether the victim of crime has first made a complaint to the agency
The victim of crime must first have made a complaint to the agency and be dissatisfied with the agency’s response to that complaint.
Our team will request information from agencies during the assessment of a complaint to help confirm that the person has first complained to the agency. This may include details of:
- formal complaints submitted to the agency by the victim of crime
- expressions of dissatisfaction that allege a breach of the Victims’ Charter
2. Whether the agency has finalised its investigation of the complaint
The Commissioner may decline to consider a complaint if it is still under investigation by the agency. However, a failure to address a complaint in a timely manner is a factor the Commissioner can consider. Therefore, the Commissioner may still agree to consider a complaint, even if it is still being investigated.
3. If the complaint is currently being investigated by another body, organisation, agency or entity
The Commissioner may decline to consider a complaint if the subject matter of the complaint is being investigated by another agency.
4. If the complaint should be referred to another agency
In some circumstances, the complaint would be better handled by another agency. This could include:
- the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission
- the Chief Commissioner of Police
- the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
- the Office of Public Prosecutions
- Any other agency, body or organisation if the complaint raises issues that would be more appropriately dealt with by them.
5. Whether the complaint raises issues of compliance with the Victims’ Charter
Any complaint submitted by a victim of crime to the Commissioner must contain an allegation that an agency breached the Victims’ Charter.
If the complaint submitted, on its face, raises issues of compliance with the Victims’ Charter the Commissioner may agree to consider the complaint if all other requirements are satisfied without trying to verify the likelihood of the breaches having occurred.
What are the limitations of the Commissioner’s powers?
The Commissioner cannot action a complaint that would impact any of the following:
- a criminal investigation or trial
- a civil proceeding
- an investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission or the Victorian Inspectorate
- a proceeding in the Family Division of the Children’s Court
- a proceeding of the Coroner’s court
- a proceeding under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997
- a proceeding under Part 7 of the Victoria Police Act 2013.
A decision not to investigate a crime reported to police
Not being provided information about the progress of an investigation
A decision to charge or not to charge a person with an offence
Not being provided information about the charges or the reason why no offence was charged
A decision to call or not to call a witness to give evidence during a trial
Not being provided reasons why a victim is or is not cross-examined at a committal hearing
Decisions made during an investigation or a trial
Not being provided information about the court process
Findings by a court or tribunal
Will agencies be able to provide further information when being investigated?
Yes. During an investigation, the Commissioner may request further information from the agency. This information may be in the form of documents, policies, procedures or responses to allegations. As part of an investigation the Commissioner will request the agency to provide their complaint handling policy and procedures. This will enable the Commissioner to investigate whether these are compliant with the Victims Charter Act 2006.
The Commissioner will also review how the agency managed the complaint it received from the person and its processes for managing complaints. This information will enable the Commissioner to propose outcomes to the investigation.
Prior to the Commissioner deciding an outcome to the investigation, the agency will be:
- provided with the proposed outcomes
- provided with the grounds for the proposed outcomes
- invited to make a submission responding to the proposed outcomes and their grounds
The Commissioner will consider this submission when deciding an outcome to an investigation alongside information gathered by the office during the investigation.
What are the possible outcomes?
The possible outcomes to an investigation include:
- An apology, explanation or facilitated meeting
- Additional training
- A change of policy
- The provision of information
The Commissioner however cannot require or direct an agency to do anything.
All parties will be notified of the outcome of an investigation within 14 days of completion of the investigation. This notification will include the reasons for any decision made by the Commissioner to uphold or dismiss the complaint.